Online music teaching via webcam is a growing phenomenon that has a lot of potential for teachers that want to reach a market far beyond their current location. The ZOEN, aka Zenph Online Education Network, is a new platform for teaching music online that launched in August 2012. It has a nice look and user friendly interface that should make it an inviting site for students as well as teachers.
I've previously written about or mentioned a number of ways that musicians can teach online by repurposing platforms like Skype or by using dedicated platforms such as ZOEN (pronounced like "zone") both here and here.
Online Guitar Lessons with Matt Brechbiel
Here's how ZOEN works for teachers:
The ZOEN's teaching policies can be downloaded from this page of the site under the heading "Manage payment and billing." Teachers can:
Set your own pricing, length of lesson and content.
Sell individual lessons or offer a "block" of lessons at a fixed price
Offer a free trial lesson if you wish
Communicate with students/parents via a secure messaging system similar to email
Teachers are paid monthly with a commission-based fee structure currently giving ZOEN 30% of fees for up to 300 lessons a year decreasing to 20% for 301 to 600 lessons and 10% above that. Be sure to check the current document for yourself but given that ZOEN handles billing and payments and provides the platform, this seems very reasonable. For teachers who use it a lot, it's a great deal.
Teachers do undergo a background check which may feel a bit intrusive but ultimately helps students feel more secure when sorting out strangers who they may never meet in person. So that's actually a plus for music teachers because it not only validates them as individuals but helps validate the platform as a whole, especially if you teach children.
Here's how ZOEN works for students:
1. Search Teachers - by instrument, style or genre, fave band, skill level
2. Book a Free Lesson - one free trial lesson per teacher (if available)
3. Take a Lesson - tech requirements, 30 minute pre-lesson alert
4. Buy a Lesson Package - discounts
The teacher profiles (example) are attractive and well designed including an intro video, experience, scheduling and prices. While students may have additional questions this clear approach makes a difference in encouraging students to take the next step.
For those interested in music tech entrepreneurship, you can find out more about the pivot to parent company Zenph, Inc. from Zenph Sound Innovations that previously pioneered a unique music technology. The best way I can quickly describe their initial product is to say it was a computer-driven player piano designed to reproduce the nuances of historical performances by master musicians. They were hoping to expand to a full orchestra but such was not to be.
Apparently they still have the tech assets but that history is somewhat beside the point for music teachers except to note that they are venture-backed so they should be able to stick around for awhile and should be highly motivated to make ZOEN work.
Note to Potential Online Teachers
If you're thinking about teaching online, it's a smart idea to check out the platform first to see if your tech plays well with their's and also to see if it's well designed for the needs of students. One way to test such a platform is to take a lesson. This can also be useful if you're never taught online.
Even taking one class will immediately alert you to some of the issues students will face both in terms of learning and in terms of your future presentation. If you just assume it's all good, you may be ensuring that it never will be.
That said, ZOEN looks like a strong competitor in this area that any teacher considering online teaching would be well-advised to investigate further.